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  • Writer's pictureWELD

San Jose Landscape Design Challenge: Paver Patios and Private Spas

Introducing The Space

We get involved with properties that are in all different stages of design. Some are looking to revamp both their front and back yard, while others are looking to bring one outdoor space up to speed with the other. In this San Jose landscape design challenge, our clients had recently finished the front yard space to fit the modern, clean lines of their home.

A look at the modern, finished front yard of this Campbell neighborhood home in San Jose, CA.

Featuring brand new landscaping, a multi-pitched paver approach, and a new driveway, they were happy with the way it turned out. Their backyard, however, was in need of some TLC.

A look at the backyard before construction began. You can see the property is finished with a fence, and is home to a large tree at the far left corner.

Standing relatively untouched, our job was to take this space and make it a beautiful, functional area that didn’t look out of place with any of the previous work. Unlike some other spaces in this neighborhood, this home had a fair amount of square footage to work with.

A look towards the covered patio of the home. Visible to the right of the frame is the side yard, wrapping around to the front of the home through the gate.

Not only was there general backyard space to work with, but this home had pre-existing covered living space to contend with as well. Built as an extension of the house, this covered patio was flanked by both the long linear backyard space, as well as a smaller side yard wrapping towards the front of the home.

The Wishlist

In order to make this bare bones backyard the outdoor retreat these homeowners were after, we made sure to include all of the must-haves. On the list for these clients was additional seating, a spa, green space, outdoor dining, and plenty of landscaping. Our challenge was to design each of these items without losing the flow of the space. Additionally, we needed to ensure the design of the front yard space did not become disjointed.

After talking with the homeowners, we moved on to the 2D design process, presenting two concepts–Concept A and Concept B.

2D Renderings

After talking with the homeowners, we moved on to the 2D design process, presenting two concepts–Concept A and Concept B.

Concept A

Concept A

Starting at the lower left of the design, the homeowners pass through the gate and into the backyard space. They step immediately onto new hardscaping that runs throughout much of the backyard. Walking forward, you pass by the new fire pit, flanked on all sides by bench seating.

Seated at the firepit, you can easily see the new, elevated paver patio installed at the back left corner of the yard. Here, we proposed an outdoor kitchen space, fully outfitted with new outdoor furniture, and a proposed fireplace or outdoor television rig.

Stepping down from this patio, you step down onto more paving, and then onto a new composite deck. This decking not only breaks up the paver in both color and texture, but also serves as an anchor for the proposed spill over spa.

Continuing right, homeowners would step off of the deck onto green space. This expanse of turf runs most of the length of the right hand side of the yard until you hit a path of concrete steppers, which lead you through a small fruit tree grove. The trees not only bring a more grounded, natural touch to this hardscaping-heavy design, but also serve to hide the storage shed in the corner of the space.

Concept B

Concept B

Where Concept A largely emphasized hardscaping forward design, Concept B softens that initial notion a bit. Stepping into the space, the homeowners proceed onto a long runway of concrete steppers. Walking along this path you see that green space in the form of turf has replaced hardscaping in much of the small side yard.

At the end of the stepper walkway, the clients can either step directly into their brand new spa, or step left, up onto a new paver patio finished with a kitchen bar. With this layout, the kitchen bar not only serves those on the patio, but becomes functional to anyone relaxing in the space as well.

Continuing right into the rest of the yard, you pass over an additional paver patio which houses the homeowner’s fire pit and new outdoor seating. From here, you can either choose to walk along the house on a long, linear paver path way, or lounge in the large grassy area, capped off at the end by a swath of fruit trees.

2D Design–Final Revision

In the end, the clients liked elements of each design, but were leaning more towards the hardscaping heavy feel of Concept A. However, they had some reservations about the layout, and wanted to see an option where the spa was less central to the space.

We are always happy to change and modify designs in response to feedback. In fact, this is why we continue to value the 2D design phase so highly. We find that 2D renderings are the best for giving homeowners an idea of what is possible in their space, without making them feel locked in to any single design or layout.

After receiving feedback, we hit the drawing boards and came back with a final 2D design, seen below.

The final, revised concept, Concept C, chosen by the homeowners.

As you can see, much of the layout from Concept A is firmly intact in this design. From the large expanse of pavers and tucked away fire pit, to the long linear yard space and fruit trees, the clients were most excited about the first direction. However, changes were made to the positioning of some key elements–most notably, the spa.

In this concept, the spa is no longer central to the yard. Instead, it has been moved to the far corner, at the back of a long approach of concrete steppers. This gives the spa a more private feel without isolating it completely from the rest of the design. In place of the central spa, the outdoor kitchen has been pushed forward in its place, serving as a centerpoint and social gathering space within a large, linear backyard.

After viewing this final design, our clients were excited. From here, we moved directly into 3D renderings.

3D Renders

With approval of the 2D designs, we were excited to bring this space to life for our clients in 3D. Not only does 3D provide a more detailed account of materials and scale, but it also is the first opportunity for homeowners to really see what their space will look like on the other side of construction.

An aerial shot, rendering the left hand side of the backyard living space.

As you can see in the above shot, the renderings brought the final design to life. The large paver patio is bordered on all sides by plantings, and the segmented concrete steppers pull you into an elevated corner spa.

Just visible at the upper edge of the frame is the outdoor kitchen complete with a bar and fully covered pergola. The pergola makes the space more comfortable, but also more functional, allowing the homeowners to use the space, rain or shine.

A closer look at the rendered outdoor kitchen. Also visible is the seat wall and plantings along the perimeter of the yard.

Having green space was important to the clients, especially with so much of the outdoor space dominated by hardscaping. From the perspective below, you can see how the large patio is softened by a perimeter of plantings. Trees and smaller bushes and foliage inject color and break up the space, and give a softer, more organic feel to the overall design.

A look down the linear yard, from the far end of the backyard space. Visible is the turf, paver walkway running along the side of the house, and the proposed covered outdoor kitchen in the background.

All in all, we managed to take a bare bones backyard and create a space that was not only functional, but in harmony with the prior design work in the front of the home. From modern hardscaping, to an elevated, private spa, to green space for the kids, this outdoor living space will have a little something for every member of the family.

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